What are FOIA Requests?
"FOIA requests" are requests for information from government entities. The abbreviation FOIA comes from the title of the 1966 federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which applies to agencies within the executive branch of the federal government. States also have laws to facilitate access to government records. See the last section of this page for information about state laws.
FOIA for Beginners
Targeted America will be upgrading this FOIA section into two parts soon. The first part will be "FOIA for Beginners" and it will be very simple to help you get started. The second part will help you build on those beginning skills with more advanced topics. In the meantime, if you're feeling adventurous, you can find information to help you get started in the "FOIA Guides from the Web section".
How will FOIA Requests Help You?
FOIA requests can be invaluable, not only in litigation but also in proving your targeting. For example, you can "FOIA" bodycam footage from an encounter with law enforcement.
FOIA requests revealed the FBI's covert and sometimes illegal COINTELPRO program targeting political, anti-war, civil rights and environmental groups from 1956-1971. Another FOIA request exposed that the Department of the Army published a report establishing that both microwave heating AND microwave hearing exist and can be used on humans. What will your FOIA requests reveal or uncover?
FOIA Guides from the Web
FOIA Wiki is a collaboration among several government transparency non-profits. Its website provides a comprehensive guide to federal FOIA requests. The FOIA Basics page of the beta FOIA Wiki website introduces the topic of FOIAs and includes links to other starter guides at the bottom of the page.
MuckRock "101: Tips and Tricks to Make You a Transparency Master"
MuckRock is one of the contributors to FOIA Wiki (above). It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been helping journalists, activists and citizens file, track and share FOIA documents since 2010. It also publishes investigatory and accountability journalism. The website has a "repository of hundreds of thousands of pages of original government materials, information on how to file requests, and tools to make the requesting process easier." You can file FOIAs through MuckRock's website with a paid subscription service (first 30 days free) or file them on your own after reviewing their guide. Topics include: